85% of Australians believe Art enriches their lives

February 20, 2017


  • Australia’s creative industries contribute more than $90 billion to our economy annually in turnover, added more than $45 billion to GDP and generated annual exports of $3.2 billion.
  • In 2011 there were more than 600,000 people working in the creative industries in Australia and over 120,000 creative businesses. Creative Industries employ 3.5% of the Australian workforce. Additionally there are many volunteers who go unaccounted for.
  • In 2009, 11 million people visited an art gallery. To give that number context, it’s more people than went to the AFL and NRL combined.
  • As an industry, ​the arts employs more people than mining does.
  • 85% of Australians believe art enriches their lives.
  • 95% of Australians were involved with the arts in the last 12 months (covering visual arts and crafts, music, theatre, dance and literature, community and Indigenous arts)
  • 89% of Australians believe art is an important part of education.
  • 2012 The Live Performance Industry (which covers music, musical theatre, opera and dance) generated revenues of over $2.5bn in Australia. Total profits and wages (for performing and support staff) amounted to $1.53bn, while also employing thousands of Australians.
  • Australia’s 2014-15 budget was worth over $442bn.
  • Australia has the third lowest gross debt to GDP of countries in the OECD (23%), a 3% fiscal deficit, is currently in its 23rd year of continuous growth, unemployment of 6% or less, a strong currency and massive mineral resources – HOW LUCKY ARE WE?!


  • A current review of the Australian Curriculum threatens to significantly limit access to art education for Australia’s school children. The skills and knowledge provided by all of the art forms are the foundation blocks of creativity, which is fast becoming the must-have skill of the 21st Century. This is a serious precedent with long reaching implications.
  • The 2014 budget, which has been roundly condemned by Australians, included cuts of more than $30 million from the Australia Council and $38 million from Screen Australia. Support for public festivals, and community events were also cut. Government artistic and cultural funding was unacceptably low before – now it’s ridiculously low.
  • Australia’s creative industries contribution to GDP has been steadily declining since 2007/8 due to a lack of support.
  • The digital game fund, designed to foster Australia’s start-ups in a highly lucrative market, was also cancelled in the budget.
  • As of 1st September 2014, the Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC) has been abolished and with it, any meaningful business support for the Creative Industries in Australia. The Creative Industries are no longer considered key to the future of Australia.
  • Direct funding for individual artists in Australia has fallen by about a third since the 1990s. In real terms, they earn far less from their artistic practice than they did 20 years ago. The median income for artists across all areas of employment is $7000 per year (2007-8, the last year for which the Australia Council released its “facts data”). Of those that spent more than 38 hours a week working on their art, the median income was still only $22,500 a year.
  • According to Graduate Careers Australia, just 48 percent of ‘Visual/Performing arts’ graduates are working full time four months after graduating – a lower proportion than all other fields of education reported in 2013.
  • Ticket prices have hit historic highs – the cost of participation in cultural events is becoming prohibitively expensive for more Australians every year.
  • Female artists earn lower creative incomes.

    Both male and female artists work an estimated 41 hours a week, however there are significant differences in the hours dedicated to creative practice and their creative incomes. Male artists spend about 50 percent of the time on their principal creative practice, while female artists spend around 44 percent of their time on their creative practice.

    Although female artists spend only 12 percent less time on their creative practice than male artists, their median creative income is still half that of male artists.

  • The income gap between arts occupations and the average Australian worker continues to widen in 2011.

    While the income of main-job arts workers rose by 0.8 percent per year between 2006 and 2011, the general workforce income increased by 1.4 percent. This means the income of those employed in the arts as their main job has continued to fall further behind the rest of the workforce.

  • Many artists have insufficient arrangements in place for their financial future.

    Throsby and Zednik estimate that 14 percent of artists had no arrangements in place for the future, such as superannuation, investments etc. Among those that did have some sort of arrangement for the future, only 40 percent believed that the arrangements would adequately meet their needs.

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